Panthers coach Joel Quenneville to meet with Gary Bettman amid Blackhawks sexual abuse fallout

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville is scheduled to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Thursday to discuss the Chicago Blackhawkssexual assault case. Quenneville coached Chicago for 11 years, including the Stanley Cup-winning 2009-2010 season in which former video coach Brad Aldrich sexually abused a Blackhawks player. 

In Wednesday’s media availability, the 63-year-old Quenneville said he addressed the situation with his team and doesn’t view it as a hindrance going forward. The Quenneville-led Panthers are the NHL‘s lone 6-0-0 team. 

“I think we try to eliminate all distractions,” Quenneville, who’s in his third year with Florida, said, according to ESPN

Quenneville felt similarly when the sexual assault allegations first arose, according to the Blackhawks’ report. The report found Quenneville met with then-president John McDonough, then-senior vice president Jay Blunk, then-senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIssac, then-general manager Stan Bowman and then-assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff just after the 2010 Western Conference Finals to discuss Aldrich’s allegations.

They decided to focus on the Stanley Cup Finals while addressing the Aldrich situation later, but they never returned to it, the investigation found. 

Bowman — who, along with MacIssac, stepped down from the Blackhawks on Tuesday — told investigators Quenneville “shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get to where they were [the playoffs] and they could not deal with this issue now” upon learning the Aldrich allegations. 

“I respect you all doing your job here and have your own questions here,” said Quenneville, who denied any knowledge of Aldrich’s sexual abuse this summer. “But I won’t be commenting further until my meeting with the commissioner.”

Quenneville’s former colleague, Chevalayoff, will also meet with Bettman. Chevalayoff, 51, spent two seasons with Quenneville in Chicago and has served as the Winnipeg Jets‘ general manager since 2011. 

“I will reserve judgment on next steps, if any, with respect to them,” Bettman said of Quenneville and Chevalayoff in a statement.

The Panthers hope to extend their winning streak to seven against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday while the Jets return to the ice against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. 

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